The search for missing persons is a discipline that takes a lot of rigor on the part of the dog, courage, speed, and toughness. In fact, the common point of all missing persons is their brittleness, in most cases are children, elderly, mentally handicapped, amnesic and suicidal people. The speed of intervention is paramount.
The education of these dogs begins at very early stage, after two months being born. The puppy will be first trained to find his master, who hides behind a bush at a distance of about 50 meters from the dog, Then the training is done with the third party. The training is done with the help of positive reinforcements.
Once the dog gets used to the reward system, The routes get difficult and trainer increases the distances gradually. In the second part of training, the dog must first find a trace of an object that was used by the master or other person depending on the level. The object is placed somewhere in the route and the dog is ordered to fetch the object.
When the team is finished with its training and ready to be operational then they can be involved in searching of disappearances. These searches are complicated by several factors, firstly the time between the disappearance and search, which is 4 to 6 hours minimum, it is sometimes much more. Sometimes families take too much time in alerting the authorities. The process, therefore, is not easy.
Another difficulty is the weather, the natural environment can complicate searches. Finally, the pollution is another factor to overcome, the trail left by the person can be lost or damaged by other people using the same route or by the search party.
Two search methods are used: we can give the dog a smell with an object reference of the missing person, the dog then tried to find the residual trace of a scent of the missing person. The second method is to let the dog investigate with freedom to find the trace of a person.
At the time of meeting the dog must bark statically to alert the teammate. This team must work in perfect harmony, the role of the handler is to observe the behavior of his dog, analyze and interpret.
When the dog follows a track he has significant physical movements , it would be different from other dogs plus you need to keep an eye because the body temperature of dog can increase significantly which is not safe for the dog.
The search can also be a game for people that do not belong to groups of police and army, in fact, it is a sport approved by the FCI.
If you want to use your dog’s ability for personal gain, you can teach him to find everyday objects, like keys or control the TV. It will be very useful to save search time and good for a mental activity of the dog.